The sought-after products of Italian furniture manufacturer Porada is finally available here.
AS a young girl, Elisabetta Allievi loved to visit her grandfather’s furniture atelier in the little Italian town of Cabiate, in the Lombardy region, where she grew up. There, she would occupy her time playing with pieces of wood lying around, building doll houses.
Today, that childhood pastime has translated into furnishing real homes, as Allievi carries on her family’s business.
“My job is my passion. This is the job I have been dreaming of since I was a child. I am very lucky to do a job that I love and (naturally) I do it for my family’s company,” Allievi, 43, says in an e-mail interview.
Allievi’s grandfather, Luigi, first established Porada in 1968 with the help of his four sons. This step was taken to expand their then chair production business, started in 1948, into other areas of home furnishing.
Today, the brand is available in over 50 countries worldwide and its products have a presence in 5-star hotel chains.
Allievi, who obtained her Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Milan in 2001, first dabbled in interior decor when she was still studying.
“I first started interesting collaborations with stylists from leading furniture companies like Molteni and Desalto when I was a student. My first job was being an assistant on the set of the catalogues of those big companies,” she say, adding that she also worked with Flou, an established Italian home furnishing company specialising in beds, for a year and a half.
From 2001 to 2008, she was attached to Milan’s Architectural & Design Studio as an architect before finally opening her own interior design and architecture studio in January 2009.
“That step gave me the opportunity to grow professionally and personally. With Porada, I follow big international projects and I study the look of our showrooms around the world, making sure that the ‘Porada style’ is being respected everywhere,” says Allievi, who is based in Giussano, also within Lombardy. Her only sibling, older brother Fabio, also works in the family business, in the company’s financial department.
Putting clients first remains her top priority in her work.
“In my job, my main inspiration is the client. Before projecting a home, you must understand what kind of atmosphere is needed and what ideas the client has – and you must be faithful to their ideas,” says the designer.
“Every space and every detail must represent the client’s expectations. It’s like making a tailored dress, it’s a job that needs creativity, passion and a human approach.”
Four key elements of the Porada brand are craftsmanship, woodwork, timelessness (there are items that are 20 years old but still in production), and shape and function.
“Porada’s aim is to create timeless, elegant furniture that can stay in every modern home and last forever. Design goes together with functionality, so that in every product you can find both shape and substance, aesthetical taste and utility,” explains Allievi.
Wood is at the heart of Porada’s designs, hence it is sourced with care.
“We make solid wood our (signature material), using it in a way that emphasises its natural beauty. The wood we mainly use is canaletta walnut that we buy from North America, from ecologically sustainable forests. This type of wood shows off the beauty of our designs best.”
The company recently bought a forest in France where it grows its own wood in order to control the raw material being used.
“In Milan, we also launched a brand new finish called the Spessart oak. The best of these oak veneers are named Spessart because they come directly from the meticulously managed Spessart Forest in Bavaria (in Germany), where the trees are harvested (under a traditional management process) after more than 200 years of growth,” she says, adding that ash is another type of wood often used for Porada chairs and seats.
Porada collaborates with various well-known designers like Stefano Bigi, Tarcisio Colzani, M. Marconato and T. Zappa, Emmanuel Gallina, and Hans Sandgren Jakobsen to come up with variegated collections aimed at catering to different demands. Every year, the company comes up with over 20 new pieces to add to existing collections.
The company also prides itself on combining technological processes with artisanal tradition in its products. Considered affordable luxury, the pieces are all made in Italy.
“Porada’s collections have increased over the last few years and are meeting international approval, something inconceivable at the beginning. This is the result of a strong tradition that, since 1968, has gradually been making our company more and more grounded,” says Allievi.
What makes Porada relevant to today’s discerning consumers?
“The word ‘modernity’ is often associated with the concepts of cold perfection and minimal look. Porada wants to change this kind of mood, combining in its products shape and substance, elegant appearance, and emotional beauty, giving its furniture a perfect design together with traditional manufacturing,” Allievi says.
Some of the brand’s past bestsellers include the Anxie, Retro, Sir Bis and Garbo collections, popular in many countries, especially in Japan.
Currently, the Infinity tables, the Ziggy collection of coffee-tables, side-tables and consoles, plus the Arena sofas are much sought-after.
In Malaysia, Porada is now available at Studio 216, a furniture and homeware outlet that opened at The Gardens Mall, Mid Valley City, Kuala Lumpur, in April this year. Prices range from RM5,000 for a solid wood coffee table to RM110,000 for solid wood dining table sets. Leather sofa sets cost between RM30,000 and RM150,000.